Puppy Hissy Fits: Tips For Using Time Out To End Your Young Dog's Defiance

Posted on: 8 December 2016

If you've provided a safe sleep spot, good nutrition, and plenty of play opportunities for your new puppy, you're a good pet caretaker. Sometimes even good puppy families end up with young dogs who throw tantrums, try to nip, or bark inappropriately. Dog kids, like human kids, are individuals with their own energy levels and impulses.

Dog trainers recommend using a "time out" approach if your puppy throws tantrums or exhibits antisocial behaviors including mouthing, aggressiveness, and jumping on people or furniture. Here are a few tips for using time outs effectively with your dog and advice on how to set up a time out spot:

Custom-tailor time outs for each dog

Your puppy has likes and dislikes even at a young age, so use these to your advantage when creating your time-out strategy. Most pups love spending time with you, and hate when you ignore them in the middle of play. You get their immediate attention by suddenly taking your attention away from them if they try to nip or jump.

A time out in this situation is as simple as backing away from the dog and removing yourself from play when the dog gets rough or tries to bite. When this happens, the puppy will usually look to you to determine why you stopped playing.

Eventually they will associate their bad behavior with your stopping the fun, and will normally avoid the behavior that causes you to pull away. When they've stopped their bad behavior during the time out, give them one of their favorite toys as a reward.

Use the crate for time out if necessary

Experts often disagree on whether or not your puppy's crate should be used as a time-out space. In a small apartment, you often have no choice but to use the crate. The good news is: most puppies are not phased by having their sleep and discipline spots functioning as one and the same.

Some trainers and dog owners think that a pup's crate should be associated only with positive memories. They prefer that the dog's sleep space not be viewed as a discipline spot.

While a bored or overly anxious dog may benefit from a variety of chill spots to redirect their energy, a crate is an appropriate time-out solution for most young dogs when floor space is at a premium. In this case, use time-out methods like confined breaks in the crate to punish the dog for throwing tantrums or refusing to obey.

Tips for creating the time-out zone

It's always nice if you can set up a secure secondary time-out or confinement spot in a laundry room, bathroom, garage, or backyard. The spot should be reinforced around the edges if you have a large, chewy or destructive dog. 

Placing an interior pet play-fence or large crate in the room is an option to avoid chewed and scratched walls and doors. A high-mounted speaker playing soothing music, a few toys, and a comfortable place to sit or sleep are good ideas in the puppy's time-out area.

Some human puppy parents set up baby video cams to supervise younger or more hyper dogs. You should have a similar system to remind you that the puppy is in time out. If a puppy sits in time out too long, the discipline method loses its training power. Hang a sign or set a timer if you have a quiet dog who doesn't remind you he's confined.

Experts agree that being consistent with your puppy-training responses is the key to using time outs effectively. Use the same time-out discipline each time for your puppy's various infractions, and always try to redirect and praise when the puppy calms down. If you need more assistance with dog or puppy training, a professional dog trainer is your best resource to get your puppy going on the right behavior path. Contact a company like ARC Dog Rehab to learn more.